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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Lucretia Mott

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Now the guests at the hospitable home were a mother and seven children, from England, who, meeting with disappointments, had become reduced to poverty. Now it was an escaped slave, who had come from Richmond, Va., in a dry-goods box, by Adams Express. This poor man, whose wife and three children had been sold from him, determined to seek his freedom, even if he died in the effort. Weighing nearly two hundred pounds, he was encased in a box two feet long, twenty-three inches wide, and three feet high, in a sitting posture. He was provided with a few crackers, and a bladder filled with water. With a small gimlet he bored holes in the box to let in fresh air, and fanned himself with his hat, to keep the air in motion. The box was covered with canvas, that no one might suspect its contents. His sufferings were almost unbearable. As the box was tossed from one place to another, he was badly bruised, and sometimes he rested for miles on his head and shoulders, when it seemed as though his veins would burst. Finally he reached the Mott home, and found shelter and comfort.

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Their large house was always full. Mr. Mott had given up a prosperous cotton business, because the cotton was the product of slave labor; but he had been equally successful in the wool trade, so that the days of privation had passed by long ago. Two of their six children, with their families, lived at home, and the harmony was remarked by everybody. Mrs. Mott rose early, and did much housework herself. She wrote to a friend: "I prepared mince for forty pies, doing every part myself, even to meat-chopping; picked over lots of apples, stewed a quantity, chopped some more, and made apple pudding; all of which kept me on my feet till almost two o'clock, having to come into the parlor every now and then to receive guests." As a rule, those women are the best housekeepers whose lives are varied by some outside interests.

In the broad hall of the house stood two armchairs, which the children called "beggars' chairs," because they were in constant use for all sorts of people, "waiting to see the missus." She never refused to see anybody. When letters came from all over the country, asking for all sorts of favors, bedding, silver spoons, a silk umbrella, or begging her to invest some money in the manufacture of an article, warranted "to take the kink out of the hair of the negro," she would always check the merriment of her family by saying, "Don't laugh too much; the poor souls meant well."

Mrs. Mott was now sixty-three years of age. For forty years she had been seen and loved by thousands. Strangers would stop her on the street and say, "God bless you, Lucretia Mott!" Once, when a slave was being tried for running away, Mrs. Mott sat near him in the court, her son-in-law, Mr. Edward Hopper, defending his case. The opposing counsel asked that her chair might be moved, as her face would influence the jury against him! Benjamin H. Brewster, afterwards United States Attorney-General, also counsel for the Southern master, said: "I have heard a great deal of your mother-in-law, Hopper; but I never saw her before to-day. She is an angel." Years after, when Mr. Brewster was asked how he dared to change his political opinions, he replied, "Do you think there is anything I dare not do, after facing Lucretia Mott in that court-room?"

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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